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Once the struggle for Spanish-American independence was triumphant, Simón Bolívar crafted a series of liberal legislative decrees for Peru and Charcas designed to abolish colonial forms of oppression. The vast indigenous majorities would no longer be subject to tribute, the mita, or personal services for state, ecclesiastical, and indigenous authorities; slaves would be freed; and equality among all citizens was declared.

Bolívar proclaimed in January 1826 that his proposed scheme for the nascent republic that carried his name was “the most liberal constitution in the world.” In his address to the Bolivian constituent congress in May 1826, Bolívar drew...

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